I started blogging to discuss books and bookish things. The world outside my happy little reading cocoon is all too real lifeish …A little boring (I totally don’t ever get to save the world, I have no super powers and I am not particularly brilliant or badass.) really cold,(it’s been a crazy winter) occasionally sad and serious…with doses of love and laughter and all those thing real life has to offer.
Real life is great…but I’m kinda an escapist…I love escaping into books almost as much as I love chatting about them.
But sometimes you have to talk about real life for just a second… because sometimes there are these amazing, beautiful extraordinary people in the world who crash into your heart and alter the fabric of your universe and you simply need to share them.
March 21st (3/21 for trisomy twenty three y’all) is world down syndrome day. For the past few years I’ve been a teacher with a theatre program for teenagers with Down Syndrome. And they have changed my life.
I’ll admit…like many many people when I first stumbled into this group I was a little frightened and a lot of lost. I had NO clue how to teach special needs kids and no idea what to teach…so my partner and I did what any lost and uncertain teachers would do…. We decided on Shakespeare.
Guys, it was AMAZING.
That first year we did Romeo and Juliette with 6 kids in a gymnasium armed with prayers and a plastic play set balcony.
Three years later year we will be doing The Tempest with 17 kids in a 300 seat theatre (Victory Gardens if you know Chicago).
But the truly amazing part is how much these kids GET it, often much more easily than their parents who are so hung up on the language of Shakespeare that they miss the humor or the heartbreak.
And that’s just a tiny bit of what we learned.
What we…What I learned was that at the heart of it they are just kids. Teenagers to be exact, playful, clever, difficult, engaging, curious teenagers in all their adolescent glory with the same hopes, dreams, heartbreak and angst as any other young adult.
Not a single one of these kids is defined by their disability. It is something they have, it is a struggle for sure but it is in no way who they are. They do not fit into a mold labeled people with downs syndrome… Like every other kid each of my students is totally unique, wholly themselves.
These kids, all seventeen of them own a piece of my heart. They have taught me more than I could have possibly hoped to teach them about life and love, joy and sorrow. I love them and I am proud to have been a part of their story, for as surely as the sun rises they have woven themselves into mine.
Today is world down syndrome day and I wanted to share this small piece of my real life with you….. because there are superheroes in this world, in my world they are a group of seventeen extraordinary teenagers.